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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"His Wound is Mortal; it is Impossible for Him to Recover" - The Final Hours of President Abraham Lincoln

From: medicalmuseum.mil


At the Petersen House, Leale was joined by Lincoln's family physician Dr. Robert K. Stone, members of the president's cabinet, and Mrs. Lincoln's pastor, Reverend Dr. Phineas Gurley.

At 10:15 pm, Dr. Stone probed the wound with his finger and determined that the president's death was imminent. To ease his breathing, the doctors positioned Lincoln's head so the wound would discharge freely and keep the site free of clots. He was kept warm with artificial heat and mustard plasters, but received no additional medications.

Before 11 pm, Army Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes and Assistant Surgeon Charles H. Crane arrived to assess the president's condition. The wound was left open by means of a silver probe and the head was supported in its position by Drs. Crane and Taft relieving each other.

About 2 am, Barnes made an examination with a Nélaton's probe. After probing the wound site and locating the bullet, nothing further was done with the wound except to keep it free from coagula.

At 7:21 am Lincoln's breathing ceased.

At 7:22 am his pulse stopped.

"... An examination was made by the Surgeon General and myself who introduced the probe to a distance of about two and a half inches, where it came in contact with a foreign substance... at first supposed to be the ball, but as the white porcelain bulb of the probe did not indicate the mark of lead, it was generally thought to be another piece of loose bone. The probe was introduced the second time and the ball was supposed to be distinctly felt."
- Charles A. Leale (1909)

Image 1: "Lincoln's Last Hours": An address delivered by Charles A. Leale, M.D., before the Commandery of the State of New York, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, at the regular meeting, February 1909, City of New York, in observance of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln.

Image 2: Nélaton's probe. Used during examination of President Abraham Lincoln's wound to locate the bullet. The porcelain tip is missing.


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